Russia reportedly tried to intervene in then-President-elect Donald Trump‘s choice for secretary of state in an attempt to block the possible nomination of Mitt Romney, according to a memo written by the author of the notorious Trump-Russia dossier.
A profile of Christopher Steele by the New Yorker details the existence of a second memo written by Steele that was based on “a senior Russian official.” The memo said the official heard that Russia was opposed to Trump choosing Romney as his secretary of state because of Romney’s hard-line stance on the country when he ran for president in 2012.
Here’s the New Yorker‘s take on it:
The memo said that the Kremlin, through unspecified channels, had asked Trump to appoint someone who would be prepared to lift Ukraine-related sanctions, and who would coöperate on security issues of interest to Russia, such as the conflict in Syria.
Trump spoke with Romney about the secretary of state job before being sworn in as president—including a dinner that led to a much-memed photograph—before ultimately giving the job to Rex Tillerson. Roger Stone, a Trump aide, suggested that Trump was dangling the job in front of Romney as sort of payback for his blistering speech against Trump during the Republican 2016 election primaries.
Tillerson’s appointment, according to the New Yorker, seemed to be an option that was preferred by Russia due to his business dealings with them as the CEO of ExxonMobil.
Romney is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah. While there were reports that Trump tried to persuade Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to run for reelection in a bid to block Romney for coming into the Senate, the president did offer his endorsement of the former Republican presidential nominee’s bid for Congress.
You can read all of the New Yorker‘s profile on Christopher Steele here.